Referring, of course, to the proposed U.S. legislation which could cause severe damage to the Internet—at least, that's what a lot of people are saying.  See, e.g., this Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress (the first signatory listed is Vint Cerf).  On Wikipedia, people including Jimbo Wales are discussing strategies as extreme as blanking the entire site (except for an explanatory message) to get people's attention, and thereby perhaps incite them to action, such as calling their Congressional representative.

I just happened to find out about all this a few hours ago, being someone who tries to avoid distractions like most kinds of news, so possibly others here with similar habits will appreciate having it called to ther attention.  Or possibly they won't.  But to those of you who possess relevant kinds of expertise: 

  • Is it possible to project likely consequences of this legislation's being passed?
  • What are those consequences?
  • Assuming they are on net undesirable, what can be done that would be most likely to prevent its passage?

(I think this subject can be discussed without political advocacy, in which I am mostly not at all interested anyway.  It just looks like a practical problem to me.)

Edited to Add: I forgot to include a fourth bullet point:

  • Again assuming they are undesirable, what can be done to ameliorate|circumvent them?

It seems to have been assumed by many commenters, nevertheless.

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For those who were wondering, SOPA.

So I know we're not supposed to get into this on LW (politics, minds, death, etc), but I figure opposing the censorship of the internet is alright to do.

Is it possible to project likely consequences of this legislation's being passed? What are those consequences?

Based on the entertainment industry's typical behavior (eg, issuing a takedown notice to YouTube over a song supporting piracy that they did not own the rights to), I'd expect mass takedowns of all sorts of things as soon as the legislation passes. Possibly a full shutdown of YouTube, megaUpload, and other sites deemed to be "encouraging piracy", but I wouldn't offer strong odds on that.

Additionally, you can expect other nations to get sick of random things being pulled from the DNS registries (basically huge lookup tables that tell your computer what to do with things like ""; changing these to a "this page has been removed" page is the SOPA method-of-choice for taking a site down). An independent DNS network will probably be created, segmenting the internet into a US internet and a global internet. The final result (assuming the legislation stays in place) will be a US in... (read more)

I'd expect mass takedowns of all sorts of things as soon as the legislation passes. Possibly a full shutdown of YouTube, megaUpload, and other sites deemed to be "encouraging piracy", but I wouldn't offer strong odds on that.

SOPA will become US law and either Youtube or Megaupload will be shutdown.

Additionally, you can expect other nations to get sick of random things being pulled from the DNS registries (basically huge lookup tables that tell your computer what to do with things like ""; changing these to a "this page has been removed" page is the SOPA method-of-choice for taking a site down). An independent DNS network will probably be created, segmenting the internet into a US internet and a global internet.

An alternative to the US-based Domain Name System will be created and it will be used more widely than the US-based system before 2015.

So I know we're not supposed to get into this on LW (politics, minds, death, etc), but I figure opposing the censorship of the internet is alright to do.

Scream loudly at your local representatives (if you are a US citizen), and encourage others, particularly the young voters who are very

... (read more)
I'm thinking that, with regard to this narrow issue -- SOPA -- the usual rules don't apply. I agree with you that most politics is green-team-versus-blue-team, and for this reason politics is the mindkiller. But I'm under the impression that both support and opposition to SOPA come from people on both the left and the right. Similarly, the CATO article you link to is correct in asserting that folk activism isn't going to make America roll back the welfare state. But SOPA isn't the welfare state. It has some politically-savvy interests behind it, Hollywood and the RIAA. That's important, but there are also some powerful interests opposing SOPA. The tech industry has tended to be politically naive compared to Hollywood, but it has money to spend, and the politicians know this. I bet the great majority of politicians who could never be persuaded budge on traditional political issues like social security or abortion might happily swing around on a technical issue like SOPA if they see the tide turning. And I'm told that the way to convince a politician who is open to being persuaded is a letter on paper.* *Actually, the very best way to get a politician on your side is, of course, to convincingly indicate that a huge campaign donation and/or a guaranteed block of votes is likely to follow if they support your cause.
You make the unwarranted and incorrect assumption that "Left" and "Right" or "Democrat" and "Republican" are the only "Green" and "Blue" that matter here. You self-identify as tech-savvy? You will be mind-killed just as surely on an issue like this.
Well, that's a danger, certainly. But it's not our fated doom. As somebody once said, politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality []. So, we ought to be aware of the danger of making public policy into a team sport. However, rationalists don't have to ignore and avoid politics, but rather must try to look at it objectively. There are tools for this. Explicit models checked against historical data is a good start, as a way of making assumptions transparent. In any case, to paraphrase Trotsky [], you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. Politicians are the people who tell police and armies what to do. Governments can be benign or maybe not so benign. To ignore politics altogether would not be rational.
I am not saying we - as individuals, or as parts of groups elsewhere - should ignore politics. We should be skeptical of even our own conclusions, but we should try to do what we deem best. I am interested in politics. I am strongly rejecting the following passage: because it is wrong. There is no bias fairy that comes and sprinkles magic Green-Blue dust over party labels. Absent additional evidence, my priors say that this [] sort of effect should appear with any group you identify with that might have "positions". I more weakly reject this kind of discussion here because it is likely to hijack more productive discussion, is likely to turn off those who have reached different conclusions (perhaps even honestly []), and we don't have good methods for dealing with the many biases that crop up here. I am strongly in favor of discussion of ways to combat those biases when we do consider these things in other environs, which we should of course be doing.
Certainly one valid (type of) response to the OP would be to explain why the proposed legislation wouldn't harm the internet. (I've seen a few claims to that effect [elsewhere], but none that seemed well-informed or carefully reasoned.) Or is 'harming the internet' too subjective|vague a notion to begin with? Perhaps that is worth discussing. Incidentally, it was part of my original thought that maybe somehow the net outcome of the SOPA regime could be positive, e.g. by spurring the development of a new censorship-proof distributed DNS infrastructure. But I didn't know about any specific efforts in that direction, and also I mistrusted the idea as probably manifesting a 'storytelling-fallacy' approach to prediction. (I'm sure that's been called something else on LW, but I don't recall what.) I agree that clear signs of political-mode thinking are on display here. In particular, I don't trust the comments that appear to be motivated either by optimism (hope?) or by pessimism (despair?). I was and am looking for the kind of precise, epistemologically sound thinking about object-level phenomena that are so often exhibited by LW participants. I also thought that---assuming the new regime will create the sorts of practical problems all of us seem to suppose it will---people here might be especially aware of specific possibilities for solving them.
I'm not completely sure what you mean about the bias fairy sprinkling Green-Blue dust over party labels. Not that I object to the use of metaphor, it's just I'm not sure what you are attributing to me. I think it's completely plausible that I expressed myself in a confusing way, so I'm going to try again. I think we both agree about the politics-is-the-mind-killer thing in principle. With that said, I'd suggest that politics exercises its mind killing power over some issues more than others, at any given time within a society. Some issues inflame political loyalties, but some do not. Race and sexuality are ideologically charged issues in the U.S. right now. But whether it's raining outside is not. To use another example, there are differences of opinion regarding how often you need to change the oil in your car. It's not an entirely subjective preference, either. Factual evidence regarding engine wear is important. But it's not a politically charged issue, at least not yet. I read the abstract and most of the text of the study you linked, but I think it explicitly applies particularly to opinions explicitly endorsed by a green-or-blue team. In other words, politically-charged issues. Right now, I'm under the impression that copyright enforcement law simply is not a highly-charged partisan issue for the overwhelming majority of people in the United States. Neither is it a religious sectarian issue, or a regional issue, or a racial issue, or a sexual preference issue. These are the types of issues that inflame people's emotions and kill their minds, at least for the great majority of the population. A few individuals may strongly identify as stamp collectors or wearers of corduroy pants, or fans of copyright law, but these would be outliers. For most people, intellectual property law is only a mind killer in that it is so boring that it puts them to sleep.
You're being very clear. "Politics" has several meanings, "related to governance," and "related to group organization." The reason governance-related issues are mindkilling is that they are so tied up in group organization and consequently individual identity. You are interpreting "Politics as mindkiller" to be referring only to governance (e.g. taxes, debt) and the issues that have become caught up in political conflict at the governance-related political levels (e.g. Christianity). What makes this issue mind-killing is not its enlisting individuals as members of "left" and "right" teams, since it doesn't. This is not very important because people nonetheless identify personally with the issues implicated by SOPA - censorship, freedom, etc. It is a "political" issue (in the broader and important sense) for the same reason all "political" issues (in the restrictive, governance sense) are political issues. That's what makes it mind killing. Specificity. You're not only "on planet Earth," you're also in (specific country). Once likewise for city, etc. down to what you are sitting on. You identify as an opponent of copyright law. That makes it a political issue for you. That most people in your city don't identify with a side on the issue, or that few personally identify as proponents of the bill, doesn't make it much less a matter of your identity. If you were the only person on earth who had an intense hatred for four-letter acronyms (this would be especially odd because humans do weird things like this specifically to signify group membership), your mind would be killed when considering SOPA regardless of the contents of the bill.
Not as such. Rather, I'd like to be a proponent of optimal copyright law. A lot of fundamental law in America is expressed in very strong terms, evoking concepts like justice and freedom and unalienable rights. In contrast, the provision giving the new Congress the power to enact copyright laws is rather practical. The purpose of copyright is: So, it's not that Authors and Inventors have a right given by God (or "Providence"), it's that a government grant of a temporary monopoly is supposed to have practical effects -- "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." This calls for cost-benefit analysis [].
ADBOC [], a bit. I think that is accurate in terms of a description of society. I think it is misleading if you interpret it causally. Issues do not inflame political loyalties in an individual because the issues are possessed of some properties with respect to society. They inflame political loyalties in an individual because of attributes of that individual. A part of this may be an expectation that society at large cares about the issue (I think this is likely in some cases) but I don't think that is essential - I expect that it applies to identification with any particular group that is likely to have a strong opinion on the topic. Probably not. But I would say that it is absolutely a highly-charged (non-partisan, but that's my point) issue for, say, the overwhelming majority of people on Slashdot or Reddit. Would you disagree? Given our demographics, how do you think LW compares?
That's interesting. I initially parsed "copyright enforcement law simply is not a highly-charged partisan issue for the overwhelming majority of people in the United States" as meaning that it's almost universally agreed to be bad. That reading was reinforced by "A few individuals may strongly identify as[...] fans of copyright law" (if it had been "fans or opponents" maybe that would have straightened me out). I'm pretty sure that most people who have been directly affected by some kind of copyright enforcement mechanism or copyright enforcement law did not enjoy the experience, and I am sceptical that they are a tiny minority. Of course, positions on copyright and its enforcement in general are entirely distinct from positions on SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, et al. (as evinced by the many anti-SOPA statements that begin with announcements of approval of copyright enforcement in general). In any case, I quite agree---especially after seeing the development of this thread---with your main point that LW is part of the community in which strong opinions on the present topic are ubiquitous. (I don't know about opinions on copyright and its enforcement in general.) But to be more precise, we are part of the community in which the opinion that SOPA is bad is ubiquitous---like many other opinions, such as that elaborate theological arguments are a waste of time. That isn't enough to make it controversial, and that's why I thought perhaps we could discuss it rationally. But of course we are afraid, and perhaps that fear is more salient and more immediate than the fear of various existential dangers and similarly scary things we discuss.
I'm happy to say I do not disagree with you about the prevailing opinions at Slashdot or Reddit. However, I don't think that either Slashdot and Reddit now act as a strong political force. Perhaps they could or should be, but I don't think they are in practice at all. Personally, I wish they were. But, it has been said, our kind cannot cooperate []. I'd like to take this statement as a challenge, rather than as a law. I would suggest to you, and everyone else, that our kind must find a way to cooperate to some degree on many issues, including public policy issues. Not all political issues, but some.
I don't disagree. I just dispute the relevance. Is your stipulation that it's likely we are only mind-killed by our association with politically effective groups? I agree whole heartedly. I agree, but we do that by tackling the mind killing, not by tackling the issues, and certainly not by thinking that the mind killing doesn't apply to us, or to our pet issue - indeed, the fact that this is our pet issue makes us far more vulnerable. Again, I'm certainly not saying "not at all," I'm saying "not here, not like this."
I find this argument persuasive. You have changed my mind.
Huh. I agree with both of you, up to At least, if 'tackling the issues' means 'coming to any kind of conclusion|decision as to what to think or even what to do. Obviously a rational approach is a prerequisite for that, but doesn't replace it. I also agree in general with but vulnerable to what in this case? Irrationally believing that SOPA would be a bad thing?
I can only speak for myself, of course. At one point, though dlthomas asked: I never got around to posting it, but I could have truthfully said that that I no longer consider myself to be tech-savvy. I was at one point, but what I once knew is now either forgotten or obsolete. However, on closer introspection, I'd have to admit that I still am a bit biased towards what may be a "tech-savvy" view of the world. I hadn't thought of it (and still don't think of it) as a major part of my identity, but it may be all the more insidious for being unseen. So I must correct for that. Now, I tentatively think that SOPA is probably bad public policy. This tentative opinion is supported by the fact (and it is a fact) that it is opposed by a great many learned people in many fields, particularly experts in American law, as well as internet technology. However, before I turn my tentative opinion into a firm opinion, I will have to do a little homework by learning just a bit more about the issues in general, noting particularly the arguments supporting the view I'm leaning against. I don't have all the time in the world, and I'm not planning to become an expert in copyright law, first amendment law, and the foundational technology supporting the internet any time soon. I don't even plan to read the full text of the proposed legislation. However, my ignorance is a reason to be cautious, not bold, in my opinions. (Parenthetically, as a U.S. citizen, I'd really like to think that my representatives in Congress would take as least as much trouble simply to understand the laws they enact.)
Or rather, it seems, to quote J.B. Priestley. See Michael Pollak's comment on this blog post [].
Why downvoted? Vacuousness? (Sometimes when I really like a comment, I don't feel satisfied by just upvoting it.)
Yes []. Please make substantive comments. (And please don't make me start another [] discussion about this.)
Thanks for answering. (Like the one-word one, this comment provides insight into nothing except my own state of mind, in which you are perfectly entitled to be uninterested.)
At my last count, there were five representatives actively opposing SOPA (Representatives Issa, Polis, Chaffetz, Lofgren, and Jackson, with roughly equal representation from both parties). Also worthy of note: Congresspersons have repeatedly (and sometimes proudly) admitted to knowing nothing about the internet, and yet refuse to allow experts to come in and speak.
Really? I'm kind of surprised Paul hasn't taken up this banner. Maybe he's busy with that whole "presidential campaign" business. I hear it's time consuming.
Ron Paul has stated opposition to the act in the past, but I've been unable to find any evidence of recent activity on his part, so I classed him as a non-active opponent of the bill. I seem to remember there being a whopping ten representatives signing an anti-SOPA pledge a while back, which is probably a decent estimate of how many representatives oppose the bill (certainly it would indicate a supermajority in favor of the bill).
Interestingly, your link is to a political think-tank site. (Of course, argument screens off authority and all that---it looks like a pretty good article.)
Right, since Cato Unbound [] is run by The Cato Institute [] (a political think tank), it would be reasonable to assign a high prior probability to it being full of mind-kill [] (therefore, not worth your time). On the other hand, there are several facts that are likely to cause you to update this probability downwards. Firstly, the author, Patri Friedman [], is actually a fellow Less Wronger [] who diminished his participation in the the community for reasons of instrumental rationality []. Secondly, two of our most respected members, Elieser Yudkowsky [] and Robin Hanson [], have written multiple [] essays [] that have appeared in the very same publication. After updating on these facts, I think this particular article has a high enough probability of being worth our time to overcome the reasonable presumption against taking seriously essays from political think tanks in order to evaluate the actual arguments contained in the essay for ourselves.
The guy who runs OpenDNS says he won't [] fight SOPA.
Looks like one of my predictions [] already came true. Somehow, I am not comforted by this.
That's sad. Here [] he was quoted as saying DynDNS has an article on their site, written by their CEO, Jeremy Hitchcock, called SOPA: What You Should Know & Why Dyn Opposes It []. It's not at all ambivalent but doesn't make any promises.
Ah, I hadn't seen that article. I'll edit my post accordingly. Thanks for the correction!
I find it unlikely that any kind of an alternative DNS network will be allowed to exist for very long, unless such network fully conforms to US laws (and maybe not even then). There's no such network in China, for example; why do you think we'll have one here in the US ?
I don't. It'll probably pop up in another nation in response to being censored by the US. EDIT: Or did you think I was referring to the RIAA putting up an alternate DNS network? Because they're not, they're going to be censoring the globally-used one.
Ok, and how will users here in the US learn about this network, and gain reliable access to it ? There will always exist some tech-savvy and reckless people who will find a way to communicate freely no matter what -- they exist even in China and Iran, today -- but I fully expect them to be a negligible minority.
If one person knows about it they can tell anyone else who's interested. Tools like Freenet are reportedly very popular in China, since people just pass them to their friends and they're easy to use; I believe there are already Firefox extensions that allow the easy use of an alternate/extended DNS list, so those will likely be passed around in the same way.
The homepages of those Firefox extensions will be killed using SOPA. The main Firefox extension site hosted by Mozilla will be forced via SOPA threats to delist the extensions. Individual developers, if known, will be prosecuted with nuisance lawsuits. Even putting all that aside, distributing a list of "patches" to DNS begs the question of who can update those patches and how do we know to trust them, resolution of competing lists, spam, etc. But more importantly than all that - most takedown requests may not target small sites with their own DNS names at all, but rather be targeted at huge sites like youtube and facebook, threatening SOPA action to force them to remove individual pages and content. Like a super-DMCA. No alternate DNS patchlist or Freenet-like tool will solve that because the content will be actually gone. And Freenet (I2P, Tor, etc etc) are not answers because this is mostly about removing media rich content or content that is accessed by many people, and those services can't effectively host something that requires a lot of bandwidth.
Yes, and then what ? Freenet servers can (and, AFAIK, routinely are) be blocked by IP. Protocol analysis tools can (and again, AFAIK, already are) used to block undesirable packets regardless of IP. Perhaps more importantly, any person who is using a tool like Tor or Freenet is exposing himself to a serious risk of prosecution, incarceration, or, in extreme cases, execution. This is a risk that most people simply wouldn't be willing to take.
Block Freenet servers? AFAIK Freenet doesn't have servers to block, and the authorities have (to date) had serious problems tracking its use.
This appears to be wrong. I haven't used Freenet [] myself (yet), but it doesn't seem to have servers at all, or admit IP blocking. In this it appears to be analogous to the hidden services [] (.onion sites) in Tor. And protocol analysis tools (packet sniffers) would appear to be irrelevant---I think---since Freenet traffic is encrypted. But this is not an area I know much about.
That's a problem in China. I really really doubt the US (the topic at hand) would go this far.
What makes you believe that the US won't go as far ?
Because using Tor or Freenet is not a crime. There's a chance you could be investigated - we've definitely done that for things that weren't criminal, and I wish we wouldn't. Just for using a legitimate anonymizing service, though, the chances of prosecution are remote. What is the prosecutor going to say that a non-asleep defense attorney can't tear apart? They'd have to charge you with something specific - and for that, they'd have no evidence (the only sector of US law enforcement that tolerates locking people up on no charge and throwing away the key is immigration - and again, I seriously wish we wouldn't do that). The worst it could do is attract law enforcement attention that could either lead them to something you've been doing - and there are enough freenet users that they can't afford to investigate every random user.
Yet. But new laws and treaties such as SOPA and ACTA are conceived every day... We're almost at the point now where you can be indefinitely detained on mere suspicion of being a terrorist. And if you happen to have a suspicious-sounding last name, and you happen to be using suspicious services such as Tor to communicate with your relatives in a suspicious country such as Syria -- then you're acting very suspiciously indeed. This sounds a bit like the "if you're innocent, you've got nothing to hide" maxim. The problem here is that, with enough legislation, everyone is guilty of something.
I'm not sure about ACTA, but SOPA was pushed by a very different group. Anonymous communications are basically off the radar. Being a U.S. Citizen noncombatant detained without charge? That's a big line to cross, legally. I'm fairly confident it hasn't been. Yes, but do you think they'd go for the little guy - you? No. They'd get a warrant, spy on you to get the big guys wherever. When they find you're not a terrorist, they can go after you or not based on what you're actually doing - or not. Or possibly they could be confused. It's not perfectly safe. But they're not aiming at you specifically just because you're using the anonymizing service. A little bit. If you're innocent, then an investigation is a big hassle, but it's way less severe than permanent incarceration or death.
A very quick Google search found me José Padilla []. According to Wikipedia, during several years of his detainment there were no charges against him. He was designated as an enemy combatant at the time, but this seems arbitrary, since he was arrested in an airport, not captured on the field of battle.
Ohkay... on the other hand, this guy had gone to a terrorist training camp. Classifying him as a terrorist may have been inaccurate, but it wasn't crazy - the circumstantial evidence was a lot stronger than 'uses anonymizing software'. (btw, upvoted for correcting me)
Depends on whose [] radar [] you're talking about. The laws aimed at hunting down terrorists, and the laws aimed at hunting down pirates, are being pushed by different people, but they are converging rather rapidly. Is it ok to detain non-US citizens [] without charge ? I'm not ok with being spied on just because someone wants to get some "big guy" somewhere. And, as I said before, it's virtually a certainty that I'm doing something illegal, without even realizing it. I don't feel any safer knowing that they are "not aiming at me specifically", because I don't want to get hit, period. You say this as though our only possible choices are "an investigation which is a big hassle" and "incarceration or death".
As executions? As far as I know, the U.S. has only ever had capital punishment for murder and treason. Defining 'use of technology that could be used to circumvent copyright protection' as 'treason' does not appear to be on the horizon yet. I think.
Oh, sorry, I didn't realize that you were referring to executions specifically; I thought you were referring to the entire process of erecting a sort of "Great Firewall of USA". I agree with you regarding executions, they are extremely unlikely.
Well, it wasn't me doing the referring, but anyway I'm a bit relieved you agree.
I consider it plausible that the US would pass laws making it dangerous to use Tor/Freenet, but much less plausible that doing so in the US right now is dangerous; and I think this difference is incredibly important to acknowledge if you want people to hear you when you make the former claim or other nearby claims, because the latter claim is implausible and scary and characteristic of (common, irrational) paranoia.
I already use an alternate DNS server since my service provider (AT&T Uverse) seems to be messing with the results.
Fair point, I should have been more specific. Maybe "An alternate DNS server that's unlikely to block things without at least a court order"
You can't use an alternate DNS server (that actually returns replies different from the official server) without breaking DNSSEC [].
Ah, thanks, I'll update my post accordingly. Not having done a lot of work with online things, how essential is DNSSEC to day-to-day internet use?
Not really, but giving up on it will make a lot of people very sad. It provides (or can one day provide) a lot of security of various kinds that we don't have right now. That said, the kinds of threats DNSSEC is designed to mitigate may not be all that much worse than SOPA.

My prediction is that SOPA and PIPA will pass in pretty much their current form (if they haven't already); the "write your Congressman" campaigns led by EFF, Wikipedia, and others, will have a negligible effect at best. However, I also predict that, in practice, SOPA will not be used to shut down any major website, such as Twitter or Youtube, though a non-trivial number of startups, personally hosted blogs, and other smaller websites will be taken down. Instead, the media industry will forge a deal with Google, Twitter, Facebook and other website providers, wherein the media industry receives an easy mechanism to take down whatever content they want at the click of a button -- in exchange for a promise to never use the SOPA nuclear option against the website provider (*).

I also predict, though with lower probability, that at least one major court challenge will be brought up against SOPA/PIPA shortly after its inception. Should such a challenge be brought, I expect to see a drawn-out legal battle that spans several years and ultimately goes nowhere (other than a settlement, perhaps).

Once SOPA passes, I expect alternative DNS providers to put up a token resistance, then fa... (read more)

What about international effects? To my knowledge all the main DNS servers are located in the US, meaning that SOPA will apply to internet users in all countries...seems like other governments might take exception to that.
They might, but I predict that they won't. After all, the Swedish government was perfectly willing to take orders directly from the MPAA [] once; why wouldn't they do it again ? In addition, there are several trade agreements in place, such as ACTA [], between the US and other nations; these agreements were crafted by the entertainment industry just as SOPA was, and work along the same lines. Even the relatively liberal Canada has implemented copyright policies that are similar to ours. All in all, I fully expect the international community to follow the US leadership on this subject.
If you mean email and petitions, then yes. Writing actual physical mail and actually picking up the phone to call has more impact.
I think that both types of petitions are likely to have a negligible effect. I agree that calling in person and sending physical mail is several times more effective, but x*epsilon is still epsilon.

Make sure you know which "SOPA" you're referring to. This piece of legislation has undergone significant change from the version that sparked popular outrage.

Added after reading some other comments: if you've made cynical predictions about SOPA's progress through Congress or its effects in the real world, don't forget to update your beliefs on the eventual outcome. Write this prediction down somewhere.

Yes, I'm worried, but I'm not sure if there's anything we (as LW) can do about it. Writing/calling/etc. campaigns only work in mass, which, let's be honest, we aren't. Which is why I hope Wikipedia does something. Shutting down Wikipedia for a day would get everyone's attention. But it doesn't look like they'll do that.

Blacking out Wikipedia is still as serious a possibility as it ever was--but it would be ridiculous to do it when the timing doesn't make sense and waste the possibility for impact.
[-][anonymous]11y 5

There is nothing we can do politically about SOPA. If it gets blocked it will be back again in 6 months even worse (as has been happening for the last few years).

Even so, I'm not worried. The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. The hackers that built the internet and keep it running are much smarter and work much faster than the legislators. Short of becoming a china-level dictatorship, there is really nothing the mafiaa can do to stop it. The internet is here to stay.

The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

DNS is the deliberately centralized part of the Internet. Big sites that host user content (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, are a very large and very centralized part of the Web. Both are located more or less entirely in the US, and both are the explicit targets of SOPA. Furthermore, existing laws like DMCA have caused a lot of damage but have not been effectively circumvented or routed around.

Edit (thanks Wedfrid): please provide stronger evidence to support your prediction that SOPA will be routed around. The best proof would of course be a description of how to do it, but that may not be conveniently available. However, merely pointing out that there are some very smart people opposed to it is very weak evidence.

There are possible technological solutions to the problem of decentralizing the Internet. None of them are immune to their authors and redistributors being arrested or C&Dd, both in the US and in allied countries, under laws that prohibit "tools that aid copyright violations".

There aren't any publicly known technological solutions to the problem of decentralizing the Web, because people who don't understand or care about technology politics will not agree to leave Facebook et al.

Burden of proof is for the courtroom!
Let me rephrase: the OP claims SOPA can and will be circumvented, but does not describe how, and in the absence of that (Edit: or any other strong argument/proof) I disagree with OP's position and assign much lower probability to SOPA circumvention. For 'burden of proof' read 'evidence supporting your inference'.
You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof [] becomes relevant as a potential reply.

You're correct, and thanks for pointing it out. I shouldn't ask for that proof in particular. I do however ask for some argument, other than "The hackers that built the internet and keep it running are much smarter and work much faster than the legislators."

The reason I'm not satisfied by this argument is that these smart hackers have bosses and legal departments and the core Internet routers and DNS servers have legal owners (who are not hackers) and are installed in non-secret and very expensive server farms (mostly in the US). Even if all the techies in the system were to organize together they could not overthrow or replace the rest of these organizations.

I do not accept the argument that they'll come up with something because they're just that smart. If it were true, I would expect many more of the long-standing problems of the Internet and the Web to have been solved. I would expect previous disruptive laws like the DMCA to be more effectively circumvented.

My prediction that such crap will get routed around is more of a "water rolls down hill" sort of thing. Even so, here is my take on how DNS blocking will go down: there are many, many, many projects and possibilities for decentralizing and fortifying the internet. Namecoin has been mentioned, I don't know if .p2p is the same as namecoin, but it's similar idea. .onion isn't going anywhere, because civilian use of tor provides cover for military use of tor. I myself have dabbled in designing kademlia-like decentralized overlay networks that don't rely on servers or DNS. i2p, freenet and so on also solve the censorship problem. There are at least three meshnet projects. There are many other projects I don't know about. Oh and all the firefox addons: mafiaafire and so on. Oh and of course the simple alternative DNS solution. and /etc/hosts. So those are the current level of activity and the seeds that anything will grow from. The way hackers and open source works is that the more important a project is, the more hackers will start working on it. As the mafiaa blocks more important stuff, pressure will build and start powering these other projects that route around it. When there is enough demand, the market will supply a solution. We have no reason to believe it's impossible, and much reason to believe it can be done. Unfortunately this mechanism only works to supply things that people know they want, like free movies, videogames, music and communication. It will not protect the growth of startups that solve problems noone knew existed. Such startups are a huge creator of wealth right now, so SOPA and friends will probably do a lot of economic damage, which is why the internet engineers and startup founder-types are so concerned.
Namecoin [] or something similar is starting to sound attractive. I think the distribution of a decentralized domain name service software package would be difficult to prevent, particularly if there are monetary incentives in the form of a token currency.
According to the MPAA-promoted [] paper [], their goal is to do just that. Most of the censorship tools that China, Iran, and other such countries are using, are actually US-made. Deploying them here at home would be relatively easy, especially given the political climate and the legal opportunities created by the War on Terror.
That's an excellent description of a position I often want to refer to. Upvoted.
Had you actually never heard that phrase? It's a cliche [], to the point where people got sick of hearing it in the '90s.
0MixedNuts11y on Earth did I ever miss this... Saint Ignucius, please don't smite me.
I was just assuming you were very young :-) I must admit, I haven't seen the phrase lately nearly as much as I did ten to fifteen years ago.
Yeah, I've never heard it, but I was born in 1989.
I was familiar. 1983.
Same here, 1985.

On Wikipedia, people including Jimbo Wales are discussing strategies as extreme as blanking the entire site (except for an explanatory message) to get people's attention, and thereby perhaps incite them to action, such as calling their Congressional representative.

Wow. They actually followed through with it. Wikipedia is down!

I predict that the US Supreme Court will get involved soon after they try censoring ANY website not known exclusively as a place where stuff gets pirated, and rip the culprits a new one. The American political climate doesn't look NEARLY rotten enough to put up with this; all the lobbying for SOPA has simply been interacting with its most corrupt, out-of-touch part so far.

What does "soon after" mean for the USSC? Are we talking about a few months or a few years? Does a case need to go through a bunch of appeals from lower courts and spend many millions first? The government lawyers will be sure to tell the judge that's exactly what the sites in questions are known as. (Technically, stuff isn't normally pirated at a site, unless it offers direct download links. And yet there are rulings even against Bittorrent trackers, which basically offer a non-searchable world-writeable hashmap. It's 100% bullshit and politics - if there was any objective standard for "infringing websites", would be heading the list. Instead we got a world where a judge is likely to think "P2P==piracy" instead of, say, "P2P==Internet".)
Short answer: Probably years and millions. Under article three, section two of the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has "original jurisdiction" only in "Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party." Mostly, they only decide cases that have already been through at least two levels of federal courts, and maybe some state courts before that.
Why do you assume that the Supreme Court will side with the pirates, and not with the hard-working media corporations ? The issue is currently being framed in these terms, after all.

Most likely because last time a takedown case went to them, they ruled that it was a violation of the First Amendment to take down some unrelated content (stuff on the same IP block if I recall) while shutting down a child pornography website. People hate pedophiles even more than media pirates, as a rule, so I'd guess they'd rule in favor of free speech here as well.

This. Also, a court is competitive, with evidence for both sides etc, while there's no such thing as "counter-lobbying" in the Congress.

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